It'd be easy to just agree with Mister Heavenly's own claim that their music is best described as "Doom Wop" and leave it at that. The "super-group" composed of Nick Thorburn (Islands/The Unicorns), Ryan Kattner (Man Man), and Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse) sounds nothing like the sum of its parts, rather, an entirely new concoction of sounds and ideas easily stuffed into one category (that they've coined, no less). It's like Frankie Vallie meets Frankie Rose, produced by Bryan Wilson and given some bite by Jack White. Say that five times fast and it still won't be as difficult to create a sound like that from scratch.
First track "Bronx Sniper" kicks off the action with a high-octane, booming rumble, the vocals igniting a fiery riff with stuff like "dangerous", "shot you down" and "never had a chance in hell" adding some epic overtones. They do say lead with your right foot, and this may be Mister Heavenly's best track, so it works. That energy continues throughout the initial exploration of "doom wop", which first surfaces in the neo-golden "I Am A Hologram"—a modernized surf-rock 50s bop tune that also sounds rather progressive. The band's theme song, "Mister Heavenly", is perfectly named and propellanta 'teen angel' for 2011, a Frank Sinatra Jr. Jr. on acid. The group mainly sticks to their mission statement—a goofball doo-wop step-child with a Frankenstein sensibility, which is both a strength and a weakness.
Mister Heavenly does the whole "past-present" sound really well, an unholy matrimony of incredibly modern sounding production and themes superimposed on old structures and motifs. But the majority of the band's appeal is based on the things that transcend this; catchy riffs, crunchy choruses, and the foot-stomping grooves. While the album is fun and flighty, the bulk of it does tend to lean towards a repeated listening of "Monster Mash" after one too many spins. Tracks like "Bronx Sniper" and "Pineapple Girl" (both released before the record dropped, wisely) emphasize the best bits of the combo meal of Mister Heavenly, but there aren't enough of these kinds of tracks yet. In the end, they've only hinted at the potential of the "doom-wop" idea to take a back seat to a trio of talented musicians making awesome music together, not the other way around. Here's to hoping Mister Heavenly is more than a single serving.
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MP3: "Bronx Sniper"